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Bulgaria lurches back to political discord as PM Petkov faces loss of majority

Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said on Wednesday he was ready to run Bulgaria with a minority government after a coalition partner withdrew his ministers.

Harvard-educated Petkov came to power in December on an anti-corruption ticket and has also pushed a defiantly pro-NATO stance toward the conflict in Ukraine in a country where ties to Russia run deep.  

After barely six months in power, however, his government is now wobbling because Slavi Trifonov, a maverick crooner and chat show host who founded a political party called “There is Such a People,” withdrew his four ministers from the ruling coalition.

Trifonov said he made the decision to quit the coalition over disagreements about the budget and over what he characterized as Petkov’s readiness to lift a veto on North Macedonia’s accession talks to the EU.

Trifonov’s move means that Petkov’s coalition is now 12 lawmakers short of the 121 needed for an absolute majority.

Despite Trifonov’s departure, Petkov was quoted in Bulgaria’s Dnevnik daily predicting that there should be enough MPs from “There is Such a People” who would stay loyal to the government’s agenda to enable him to continue to govern.

Petkov’s two other coalition partners — the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the small anti-corruption Democratic Bulgaria party — say that they are sticking with him.

Trifonov’s withdrawal, however, raises the prospect of a return to political impasse in the Balkan country, which went through three general elections in 2021.

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